WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and 32 other Senate Republicans are demanding special counsel powers for the prosecutor investigating Hunter Biden, warning Attorney General Merrick Garland to take steps needed to avert political meddling on behalf of the president's son.
"There is no way of knowing the entire scope of the investigation, but evidence seems to be mounting that Hunter Biden committed numerous federal crimes, including, but not limited to, tax fraud, money laundering, and foreign-lobbying violations," the senators wrote in a letter released Monday by Cornyn's office.
Fox News, CNN and other major news outlets reported two months ago that the federal investigation into Hunter Biden's business activities was at or near a "critical juncture," with prosecutors weighing the possibility of charges.
The probe began during the Obama era as a tax inquiry, and widened in 2018 during the Trump administration.
The inquiry is led by the U.S. attorney in Delaware, David Weiss, a Trump appointee -- one of the few kept on by Biden, in part to avoid any appearance of political meddling.
House Republicans have announced they will launch investigations into Hunter Biden if they win the majority in November's elections, including whether his dealings with a Chinese energy company and other international businesses created conflicts for his father.
"It is clear that Hunter Biden thrived off of a 'pay to play' culture of access to his father, then Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for financial compensation," Cornyn and his colleagues wrote in the letter, which is dated Friday.
No evidence has surfaced to indicate that President Joe Biden benefited from his son's dealings.
"Given that the investigation involves the President's son," the letter from Cornyn says, "we believe it is important to provide U.S. Attorney Weiss with special counsel authorities and protections to allow him to investigate an appropriate scope of potentially criminal conduct, avoid the appearance of impropriety, and provide additional assurances to the American people that the Hunter Biden investigation is free from political influence."
Cornyn is the lead signatory, along with Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Texas' junior senator, Ted Cruz, also signed on, as did 17 of the 50 GOP senators.
Garland and the White House have long rejected assertions of politicization of the Justice Department.
Conservatives have leveled those assertions in the context of the Hunter Biden probe and, among other instances, inquiries into the mob attack at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Monday's letter cites the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's private home and office, where agents found reams of official documents, some classified.
The letter also accuses Garland of targeting parents who resisted mask mandates and the purported inclusion of "critical race theory" in school curricula; and Republican-controlled states that have tried to impose an assortment of "ballot integrity measures" seen as voter suppression by Democrats.
"Given the politicization of the DOJ under your watch and the importance of avoiding any appearance of impropriety, the undersigned request that you provide U.S. Attorney Weiss the full protections and authorities of a special counsel," the letter said. "This is one important action that you can take that will go a long way to restoring faith in our governmental institutions."
In a July 25 letter to Garland and FBI director Christopher Wray, Grassley asserted that whistleblowers had told his office that "there was a scheme among certain FBI officials to undermine derogatory information connected to Hunter Biden by falsely suggesting it was disinformation."
That was in the months leading up to the 2020 election, when Trump was still president and the Justice Department and FBI were run by his appointees.
Cornyn, Grassley and their colleagues cited that allegation in the new letter to Garland.
"As detailed by Senator Grassley, 'highly credible' whistleblower have come forward to detail a 'widespread effort within the FBI to downplay or discredit negative information about' Hunter Biden," the letter reads, accusing Garland of deterring "lawful whistleblower activity" by issuing a memo three weeks ago requiring preapproval before Justice Department employees can have direct contact with members of Congress.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.